Sunday, June 4, 2017

Where's Waldo - a Test and a Question?

Test: In the following pictures can you find:
  • 9 fireplugs,
  • 7 Mailboxes,
  • 4 Trash Cans,
  • 3 Parking Meters, and
  • 1 smashed Telephone Booth?

Question: Why would anyone put N scale details on a layout that they cannot see (only the camera can)?
The Murphy House greasy spoon on the Brooklawn circles

The PRSL electric generating station in Westville

Pine Street in Westvile

Texaco Refinery in Westville

Texaco Refinery in Westville

Olive Street in Westvile

North Woodbury

Railroad Ave & Cooper St in Woodbury

West Barber Ave in Woodbury

Downtown Camden


Cooper St in Woodbury - my red/green color blindness prevents me my seeing the fireplug in this picture

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Modern 6 Axles #$%^

All 4 axle diesels have pretty much run flawlessly from day 1 on the layout.

Early Atlas 6 axles ran well also but when I started getting the Fox Valley and Kato GE & SD70 Heritage units several track areas became serious issues.

1) One, the gap between the Westville and Brooklawn modules has been an issue from the early days (not the smoothest module transition).

2) When we did the whole house energy efficiency program it created heat problems (i.e. track expansion) in the loft. Evidently the high efficiency air conditioner ran less time which caused the loft to get hotter during the off cycles. The temperature difference between downstairs and the loft changed from a 7 degree difference to a 10-11 degree difference. Now I began to have problems on both ends of the viaduct (almost imperceptible unplanned S curves leading into the planned S curves). I didn’t notice the bad areas at first because the engines didn’t actual jam and come off the track until they reached the back of Camden curve (only accessible from the access hatch $%^&^$!).
3) When I added the switches to allow me to use the third track behind the viaduct as the 4th staging track, the track flow had a dip that caused the Fox Valley snowplows to snag on the rail joint and come to an abrupt stop. The track clearence on the snowplows is way too low.
All 4 areas have been ripped out and replaced/leveled. The new track has had the ties and rail sides painted, and been re-ballasted.
4) The layout has 55-56 switches and I try to clean them before every operating session. since most of my Peco turnouts are 40+ years old, this often requires filing and bending the point rails so they close smoothly. Before the last operating session I broke the points on one turnout. This turnout was always a touchy one, many times putting cars on the ground during switching, so I ripped it and the two tracks coming it off and replaced the turnout with another from my collection of spares. (I should have done it long ago!)

Now everything seems to be running smoothly (including the big 6 axles). 
(When winter comes and the rails contract we will see what happens then!)

Monday, May 29, 2017

WY79 Tank Sweeper and WY841 (RDG) Coal Drag

WY79/80 was a run to service the refineries in Westville and Paulsboro. Some referred to it as the "Tank Sweeper". I believe it originated from the old Reading Bulson Street yard in Camden.

My representation originates in the new 4th staging track (hidden behind the viaduct) and is 23 cars long. With 3 engines on the head end it is a beautiful 75" long sweeping train. It services the on-line Texaco Refinery in Westville and the off-line Sunoco refinery in Paulsboro.

WY841 in Woodbury heading down the Penns Grove/Deepwater branch

23 cars = 75"

Leaving Woodbury with a PRSL N5 cabin bringing up the rear.

Red Oak tower in Woodbury
The Reading usually had the coal contracts to support the Atlantic City Electric generating plants in Atlantic City and Deepwater NJ. I have pictures of it with multiple Reading RS3s on the mainline to Atlantic City but I don't model that portion of the PRSL. The Deepwater plant may (or may not) have been supplied by Reading car floats across the Deleaware but on my layout the same type Reading RS3s service it via the Deepwater/Penns Grove Branch through Woodbury.

My WY841 runs from the main staging tracks with loads south. It returns north with empties as WY840 with the same Reading equipment on the front and back ends. Yard staging limits this train to 16-20 cars (5').

WY841 over Timber Creek entering Westville with a pair of Reading RS-3s on the head end

Passing Olive Street in south Westville

Entering North Woodbury

Drone view

Edith Avenue in north Woodbury

Passing Hollaway Lumber (current site of the Colonial Diner) in north Woodbury

Saturday, May 6, 2017

PRSL Operating Session #8

We had our 8th group operating session today. We were missing one of our regulars so I had to do some actual railroad work in addition to my normal responsibilities of handing out demerits and providing general crew harassment. As I mentioned on a couple of the model railroad forums we learned the following:
  • You can't take a 23 car tank train up a 3% grade with only 2 Atlas GP38s
  • The crew will forget everything they have learned from the first 7 op sessions when you give them 6 months off
  • We only have 2 operators that can still fit into the Camden access hatch since the city encroached into its space.

Mario (@mrodtoo) got cheated in the crew highlights of my articles in N Scale Magazine (you could only see the back of his head while he was working), so this is his actual face. He obviously enjoys yard work:

Mr. Model Railcast Show, Tim, switching the Woodbury area:

Bob stuffed in the access hatch fixing a mistake 😊:

A 23 car tank train struggling up a 3% grade behind a pair of PRSL GP38s:

The famous PRSL meatball on the lead unit's nose:

The Philly transfer leaving Camden behind a Baldwin RT624:

...while a pair of Baldwin BS12s shove a cut of cars into Pavonia Yard:


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Atlantic County 4-H Model Railroad Club Train Show

Along with Bob, Mario, & Larry, I attended the Atlantic County 4-H Model Railroad Club Train Show. It contained several large layouts manned by members of the:
.          Atlantic County 4-H Model Railroad Club
.          NJ Southern N & T Trak
.          Central NJ N-Trak
.          Five Point N Trak
.          Northern NJ T Trak
.          Brooklyn N Trak
.          Keystone N & T Trak

This was the first time I ran across the T Trak modules and I was impressed by their work.


Hey, the Tax Co. is going out of business!

I question the wisdom of building an airline terminal over a railroad???

Monday, March 27, 2017

23 More Days!

23 more days until the end of tax season and I can return to the hobby! 

I do seasonal work for a large tax preparation firm from January to April 18th. They are about 50 people short in their southern New Jersey offices and consequently we put in a lot of hours during the tax season. My health has been struggling with annoying minor issues so I am dragging myself to the finish line this year.

I did get the opportunity to attend dual meetings of the PRSL Historical Society last week. The first part was an open house at the restored PRSL Glassboro train station. I’ve included a photo from Ben Kranefeld showing its deteriorated state before the restoration began. The station was built in the 1860s and the local historians, especially Rich Drobil, can regale you with their adventures in uncovering historical treasures before the actual restoration began. There was not much left after the termites and vandals had completed their work but a faithful few returned the station to life and turned it into a worthy railroad museum.

Prior to Reconstruction - photo by Ben Kranefield

Glassboro Station March 2017

A local freight train passes Glassboro station every night around 8:00 PM - photo by Lou McCall

A painting of the Glassboro train station area in the 1890s.
Following the open house we moved to a local church basement where Steve Barry, editor of Railfan/Railroad magazine, presented a slide show of railroading in southern New Jersey.